Over the past several years, it has become abundantly clear that the world is facing a plastics crisis. Plastics in the natural environment are extremely harmful to wildlife and humans. They clog our waterways, contaminate food chains, trap wild animals, and pollute the natural world. Every year, humans generate 300 million tons of plastic. At our current rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050!
Here’s how Utah’s Hogle Zoo is fighting the plastic pollution crisis:
For more than 20 years the zoo has been free from single-use plastic straws.
Since 2017, we have worked with our retail partner (Service System Associates) to reduce single-use plastic packaging throughout our gift shops.
Single-use plastic bags were discontinued from the zoo on Earth Day in 2018.
In the summer of 2019, we hosted an awareness art exhibit titled ‘Washed Ashore’ by artist Angela Hazeltin Pozzi. This exhibit featured larger-than-life sculptures of marine animals, each of which was composed of plastics found across the beaches of Oregon.
Following the exhibit, the Zoo eliminated single-use plastic bottles at our concessions and installed water bottle refill stations throughout our grounds in their stead.
Reducing single-use plastics is one easy thing we can all do to protect our environments and the wildlife that depend on them. If you would like to learn more about how you can reduce your plastic use, check out the resource below.
The LEEDGreen Building Rating System® is the national benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. It emphasizes state of the art strategies for sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, materials & resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation & design processes. Utah’s Hogle Zoo has two LEED Gold Certified buildings on our campus: the L.S. Skaggs Animal Health Center and our administration building, the Conservation Resource Center.
Many of the green guidelines laid out in the LEED certification are also applied to other capital projects at the Zoo. When we build any new exhibit or building, every effort is made to ensure that it is done in the most sustainable way possible.
In 2002, it came to our attention that Utah’s Hogle Zoo was one of the highest water users in the state. When we received this alarming news, we knew we had to make changes to bring our water use in line with our conservation mission. Action was immediately taken to bring our usage down. Through the following measures, we have successfully reduced our water use by 65% over the last 20 years:
Utah’s Hogle Zoo…
Replaced large grassy areas with beautiful, low-water alternatives.
Installed advanced drip irrigation systems to regulate water for the remaining patches of grass and plant life.
Eliminated most of our dump and fill ponds in animal exhibits.
Implemented advanced filtration systems. Our two largest water exhibits, which house our polar bears (135,000 gallons) and seals/sea lions (165,000 gallons), run on 100% recycled water. This is accomplished through the use of mechanical filters, sand filtration, and generators.
Adjusted animal exhibit substrate to allow for hose-free cleaning.
Introduced low-flow water fixtures in all guest restrooms.
In 2017 Utah’s Hogle Zoo and Utah Clean Energy, a non-profit, public interest organization working for a clean energy future, partnered to create the ZOOm Go Electric! program. Sixty-six electric vehicles and e-bikes were purchased through this six-week program. Over the past five years these electric vehicles prevented 64,000 gallons of gasoline from being burned. This is an important step towards cleaning up our air along the Wasatch Front.
Leaders for clean air generously donated two electric vehicle charging stations to the zoo. The zoo has supplement those chargers with additional installations, ensuring that electric vehicle charging is available for both staff and guests during their time here.
Recycling is one small thing that we can all do to help protect our land, air, and wildlife. Landfills take up a lot of space and produce copious amounts of greenhouse gases. Through proper recycling, we can divert items from landfills so that they won’t fill up as quickly and will emit less greenhouse gas over time. Recycling preserves habitats by reducing the need for new raw materials. It also reduces the water and energy that is normally needed to obtain those materials.
Utah’s Hogle Zoo has a robust recycling program that goes far beyond what you might have in your home. We recycle more than ten different kinds of waste, including:
Film plastics (like bubble wrap and plastic bags)
CDs and DVDs
Ink and toner cartridges
Singe stream recycling (paper, plastics, and cans)
Did you know that recycling your cellphone could help save gorillas? Cellphones and other electronic devices like smart watches, tablets, etc. contain a mineral called coltan. Coltan is a metallic ore that is mined like gold. One of the largest reserves of coltan is located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo— right in the heart of gorilla habitat. Mining for coltan in this region has contributed to the critically endangered status of the Grauer’s gorilla through habitat destruction and illegalpoaching.
By recycling your old cellphones at Hogle Zoo, you help to conserve an endangered species. How does it work? Simply bring your unwanted phones and accessories to the Guest Services Office in the Entry Plaza. Then, we will recycle these items through our partner Eco-Cell. This reduces the need for coltan mining and will help to protect and preserve gorillas and their habitats. Revenue generated through this recycling program is donated to our conservation partner Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) to support their work as they rehabilitate and conserve gorillas in the Congo.
BEFORE YOU RECYCLE YOUR CELL PHONE:
Make sure your phone plan has been cancelled with your carrier.
Clear all data from your phone. To do this, it might be easiest to perform a Google search. Include your phone make and model in the search bar along with the phrase “FACTORY RESET.” It’s that simple!
Would you like to get your school, church, or community organization involved in cellphone recycling? Contact the Zoo’sConservation Action Coordinator for information on how to set up a collection box.
Seafood isn’t just a fun treat for our marine mammals here at the Zoo. In fact, it provides essential nutrition to over three billion people worldwide. Healthy ocean ecosystems are essential to support both humans (many of whom rely on fish as a main food source) and the wildlife that depend on them. Unfortunately, our ocean is being overfished. These unsustainable fishing practices are destroying habitats, decimating fisheries, and killing millions of marine animals every year.
Utah’s Hogle Zoo is proud to partner with Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to ensure that the seafood we purchase (for both our animals and our concessions) is sourced sustainably. Believe it or not, you can use this program to make sure you are shopping sustainably too. Simply visit their site seafoodwatch.org for recommendations regarding sustainable choices. Check out their consumer guide while you’re at it!
When you visit us, be sure to catch one of our seal and sea lion demos to see our animals enjoying their sustainably-sourced seafood.